What Shall I Do When God Riseth Up?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

If you will look at Job, chapter 31, you will find in verse 14, the question that we are going to consider today:

Job 31:

14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Let us get that question firmly fixed in our minds so that we will all be thinking along the same line. Notice again:

Job 31:

14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

The question will be better understood if we take a few moments to consider the context in which it is found. You will recall that Job was undergoing severe testing at the hand of Satan with the permission of God. That is the only way that Satan can get to you if you are God's child—with God's permission.

We will not take the time to consider all of the testing, but we do remember that during that time of testing, three friends of Job came to visit him. They meant well, but they missed the point practically almost every time. Though they did miss the point in relation to Job's particular problem, they said a great many things that were true whether they applied to Job or not.

The question which we are considering today is a question which Job asked in answering the contention that Bildad presented in Job, chapter 25. In this chapter, Bildad was emphasizing that if Job were all that he ought to be, he would not be in the situation that he was. In chapter 25, Job asked a question that we will be looking at in the future as the Lord leads. It is found in verse 4, and it helps to explain the question that we are looking at today. Notice chapter 25, verse 4:

Job 25:

4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?

“How can man be justified with God?” That is the question that every individual has to face at some time or other. Bildad asked the question, so Job, in the succeeding chapters on through chapter 31 proceeded to answer it by saying, “A man is justified before God when he does what he ought to do. If his works measure up and please God, then God is going to justify him.”

As we will learn in later discussions, that is not going to be true, but when Job was thinking about this matter of justifying himself before God by works, he was thinking of how he treated his own servants. He said in chapter 31 that if his servants did not do what they should do, he called them to account for it. He expected a reasonable answer for things that were not done as they should have been done. Then because Job was a very sincere person, he said, “One day I am going to be called to account. One day my Master is going to say to me, ‘Why?'.” So he asked himself the question that we have before us today:

Job 31:

14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

That is how the question came into being, and I would like for us to consider it today as though we were faced with it, for we are. I would like for each one of us to ask ourselves the question, “What will I do when God riseth up, and when he visiteth me, what shall I answer him?”

The New American Standard translation renders the verse: “What then could I do when God arises, and when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?” You notice a slightly different emphasis that is well taken.

I would like for us to delve into the verse a little and get exactly before our minds what God is asking, so I would like to remind you that the word riseth is a translation of the Hebrew word quwm , which when it is used of God in this sense speaks of God intervening in the affairs of men.

Everything runs along smoothly for a long time, and then God injects Himself into the affairs of men. Things in your life go along as they have gone along day after day after day after day after day. Then suddenly God intervenes in the ordinary affairs of life. The question is, “What shall I do when God intervenes in the affairs of my life? What shall I do when God riseth up and what shall I answer when God visiteth me?”

The word visiteth is a translation of the Hebrew word paqa d , which speaks of “reckoning, the idea of being called to account.” That is the thought in this verse of Scripture when God comes into our lives and expects an accounting from us.

I would like for you to keep in mind if we read this verse in the light of the words that we have suggested to you, the verse we read from the King James text might be expressed in this way: “What shall I do when God intervenes in my life, and when He calls me to account, what am I going to say?”

Unsaved to Answer at Judgment Bar of God

Are you thinking with me? I would suggest to you that there are three approaches to the question that every one of us need to think about. You are the individual who will have to determine the approach that is necessary for you to take. May I suggest to you something that I suppose all of us are aware of and that is that this question must be answered by the sinner at the Judgment Bar of God. There is no question that there is such a judgment. In Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 27, it is recorded:

Hebrews 9:

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

There is no way to escape that. If you are here today without the Lord Jesus Christ and you die in the state in which you are, you will stand at the Judgment Bar of God. That will be the time that God rises up for you. That will be the time when God intervenes in your life. What are you going to do when God riseth up at the Judgment Bar of God if you live your life without the Lord Jesus Christ and die and stand before God a guilty sinner? What will you do when He calls you to account at that great judgment day? What will you answer Him?

This sort of question was asked during the days of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He taught in a parable what actually would happen. We don't have time to look at the whole parable, but you might like to look there later. The parable is of the wedding feast to which an invitation was given to all who would come. When the individuals came into the wedding feast, there was a time of great rejoicing. The king came in and in Matthew, chapter 22, verse 11, he looked over the assembled guests. He saw that there was a man who did not have on a wedding garment. The King said to him:

Matthew 22:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Did you get that? He was speechless. Coursing through the minds of average people is how unfair it was for that man to be cast out from the wedding feast just because he didn't have a wedding garment. That is so unfair. That is so terrible to be that critical and to be that partial to certain people. But if you examine the parable in the area in which it is presented, you would discover that everybody invited to a wedding such as is described in this passage of Scripture was given a wedding garment at the door. It wasn't a case of not being able to afford one. It was a case of simply refusing to wear the wedding garment that was provided. What happened to this man? The parable said that he answered not a word. He was speechless.

What is our question? Notice again:

Job 31:

14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Hear me today. If you are here without the Lord Jesus Christ and you die in that state, when you stand at the Judgment Bar of God, there will not be one word that you can say because God will say to you, “How stand you here without the Lord Jesus Christ?” And, you won't be able to say anything, because you have the opportunity of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and you have refused to do it. If you have never had an opportunity before, you have that opportunity right now because I preach to you the Gospel. God sent His Son to die for your sins. God made His Son to be sin for us, even though His Son was sinless, and all you need to do to be free of judgment is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, for the Bible says, “There is therefore now no judgment to them who are in Christ Jesus.” Don't put yourself in the position of standing before the Judgment Bar of God without an answer to this question.

There is a second approach to the question that we are considering and that is in relation to the believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If you have found the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will not stand at the judgment about which I have just been speaking, but every person who has received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior will someday stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Believers to Stand at Judgment Seat of Christ

One description of the Judgment Seat of Christ is found in II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 8. The Apostle Paul said:

II Corinthians 5:

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9 Wherefore [in the light of that fact, I would like to be with Jesus, he said] we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted [approved] of him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

There it is. What shall I do when God riseth up at the Judgment Seat of Christ? What shall I do when God calls me to account at the Judgment Seat of Christ? What shall I answer Him?

Time does not permit us to suggest the questions that might be asked at the Judgment Seat of Christ and, in addition to that fact, we do not know all the questions that might be asked at the Judgment Seat of Christ; but I say to you today that one day, as believers, we are going to be standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where all the stewardship of time and talent and work is evaluated. It is conceivable that God might ask us some very pointed questions about why we were not the witnesses we should have been for Jesus Christ. Why did we not use more wisely the material goods that He committed to our care? Why did we not respond to that appeal which the Spirit of God made to our hearts concerning something which God wanted us to do? Why did we do what we did that made it necessary for us to lose the opportunity He had in mind for us and consequently lose the crown, the reward, that He had in mind to give us?

These are serious things and there is no point in my standing here today thinking your thoughts for you. I merely suggest some things I trust will initiate your thinking which will continue long after this particular lesson is finished.

All Men at Various Times

There is a third area in which this question must be considered, and I have expressed it in the words: “All men at various times.” I mean by that every man. The unbeliever must face this question at the Judgment Bar of God. The believer must face it at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but all of us must face this at various times while we live upon the earth.

God is a God of grace. Judgment is a strange work with Him. The long-suffering of God is unbelievable, and because God is long-suffering, because God is a God of grace, because God does not deal immediately with everything in our lives that displease Him, we sail along on a peaceful sea thinking God does not know, God does not see, and God does not hear, and that it really does not matter the way we live. Then God intervenes. Some of us somehow or other seem to have forgotten some very express warnings in the Word of God. Notice Galatians, chapter 6, verses 7-8:

Galatians 6:

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

This warning from the Word of God is relegated to the future, and individuals are reminded that they are going to go to Hell someday if they are not careful. This passage of Scripture is related to the present. Many of us have sown and are sowing seed that someday we will reap, but the harvest seems so far off because we have been doing so much that God has not called us to account for. We have been failing to do so much that God has not said anything to us about, but one of these days—mark what I say to you—in this life, God is going to visit you and ask for a reckoning. One of these days, God is going to rise up and ask why you have sown the seed that you have sown.

In I Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 31-32, God sees fit to deal in this life with sins which believers commit, and because it doesn't happen to us and hasn't happened for a long time, because it happens to somebody far off from us, not immediately related to us, we sort of drift into the habit of thinking that it really is not going to happen to us. In I Corinthians, chapter 11, God says that sometimes He arises in a man's life, sometimes He visits a man and a man becomes sick, a man becomes weak. Sometimes he even dies, and that is the judgment of God.

Don't make me take precious time to explain that every sickness is not related to judgment. Every death is not related to judgment. You know better than that, but by the same principle, do not nullify the seriousness of my question today because God does visit His children with sickness and weakness and death because they are disobedient to Him.

When He visits, what are we going to say? What are we going to do? In verse 31 of I Corinthians, chapter 11, we read:

I Corinthians 11:

31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

You see, God has guaranteed that if you are His child, He will not send you to Hell. He would be faithless to Himself if He did, but by the same faithfulness to His Word, He cannot let us as His children disobey Him and do that which displeases Him and be unconcerned about it. There comes a time when God has to deal with us, so the question is—let me drive it home to you— “What shall we do when God riseth up, and when He visits us, what shall we answer?”

Illustrations of God's Intervention

There are illustrations in the Old Testament of God's visiting His children in the sense of calling them to account because of unconfessed sin in their lives. The New Testament has exhortations. The Old Testament has illustrations and examples. We will not look at all of these by turning in the Scripture to them because time does not permit, but we would remind you that there is an illustration in II Samuel, chapters 11-12, of how God visited a man because of the immorality in his life. David was his name. His immorality was with Bathsheba, and the immorality led to a good many other things; but one day, God, in the person of Nathan the prophet, visited David and said, “David, you are the man.” God rose up in the sense of our text. God intervened in the smooth operation of David's life and said, “We have got to stop this.”

David was visited by God because of an act of immorality. To most people, that is at the far end of the scale, but I would remind you that there was another time when God visited David. It is recorded in II Samuel, chapter 24, and He visited David that time purely on the basis of pride. David did what some folk would say is an innocent thing. He said, “Go out and number my army and tell me how many men I've got.”

What's wrong with that? There's nothing wrong with knowing how many men are in the army. The reason you want to know it is what the trouble is. David's heart was filled with pride. What happened? Did God let David go until the day he died and then call him to account later? No. He intervened in his life in that particular day and said, “Something has got to be done about this.”

The sad thing about God's intervention in David's life was that even though he could confess the sin, the damage was done—a child died. That was an intervention that was forceful enough to get the attention of David.

The other striking illustration in the Old Testament is found in II Samuel, chapter 15, verses 13-14. It is related to the life of a man named Saul, and this was a matter of rebellion related to the life of the nation of Israel in their selection of a king. Because Israel tired of God's rule in their lives and decided there was some other way that things could be done, they demanded a king. The rebellion took fruit in the life of Saul and God called the whole nation to account.

We have been asking the question. We have been trying to emphasize it. We have been trying to explain it, but we really haven't answered it, have we? You realize today that there is no answer to this question in the Word of God as far as chapter and verse is concerned. There is no certain chapter. There is no certain verse to which I can invite your attention and say here is what you do when God rises up. Here is what you do when God visits you.

Repent and Confess

All I can do is to suggest some reactions based upon the Word of God. When God visits you, if there is a need, repent and confess. That is exactly what happened in II Samuel, chapter 12—an acknowledgment of sin, a confession, a repenting, a turning away from the sin. If today God should arise in your life and ask for an accounting, you don't need to try to snow God. That can't be done. Simply acknowledge your sin and repent, and God in His mercy (Oh how gracious He is.) may let the matter end there.

How many times has God visited us? How many times has God called us to account and we were so upset and sometimes perhaps even rebellious against God, but the reason God did it was that if He had let you go on, you would have been in for something far worse.

I think back over my life when God visited me, and at the time, I said, “Oh, why did this have to happen?” As the years have gone by, I have seen that if God had not called me to account, then I would have been into something far, far worse later. God wants us to learn to repent.

Learn to Face the Consequences

Then, I would suggest to you another approach to the question by way of dealing with it. You must learn to face the consequences. David did that. In II Samuel, chapter 12, verses 13-14, though David's sin was forgiven, the child that he loved died. What did he do then? You remember the story. While the child was yet alive, he laid upon his face. He would eat nothing. He would drink nothing. He cried out to God. His servants tried to comfort him, and he would have nothing to do with them. They came in and said, “The child is dead.” Then the Scripture said he arose, he bathed himself, he dressed, he went about his business and they said, “This is strange. Why are you doing this?”

He said, “There is nothing more I can do. I've got to face the consequences.” Sometimes, because of our disobedience to God, it is necessary for God to deal with us, and when the thing happens in the manner in which He deals with us and it is unpleasant, some folk give up. Some folk get angry with God. Some folk say, “What's the use if that is the way it is?” Every one of us must learn to face the consequences.

Judge the Sin

There is something else I would suggest that all of us do and that is before it is necessary for God to deal drastically when God visits us, we need to judge the sin about which He is dealing. You see, if we are in fellowship with God and sin occurs in our lives, the Spirit of God will bring it to our attention; but some of us, because we are not sensitive to the Spirit of God, will go on and on and on and tolerate that sin in our lives and let the sin itself grow as leaven grows within the dough. Pretty soon we will become pretty used to the sin and it will become very commonplace to us. We won't even think about it. Then God rises up another time and this time, His visit is more drastic. Something has to be done about the sin.

If we would learn the very moment that God visits us to acknowledge the sin, God would have accomplished His purpose. I always like to remind you that in Proverbs, chapter 28, verses 13-14, the man who confesses the sin, the man who acknowledges his sin, the man who repents of his sin has a good illustration to gauge the sincerity of his confession, a good gauge to confess the sincerity of his repentance. Notice:

Proverbs 28:

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Confess your sin. Be conscious of it. If you harden your heart and ignore the plea of God in your life, you are going to fall into serious trouble. It is my responsibility before God, because He has laid this series on my heart, to ask you the question: “What will you do when God riseth up, and when He visits you, what will you answer Him?”

Conclusion

It is your responsibility to look the question squarely in the face and respond in the manner that will please God and perhaps even save you a great deal of chastening at the hand of God.


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